It’s history. And history is usually defined by the people that tell it. It is told in what gets put in and especially what gets left out. Sometimes a certain history escapes us for years. History is told at it’s best when it is honest. History can sometimes be seen as numbers and dates. And those numbers and dates are important, like the dates of May 31st through June 1st, 1921, the dates of the Tulsa Race Massacre. Dates help us understand a period and give us a perspective from the time and date we are living in now. But those dates and times are only a small speck of history. Like a tombstone of a stranger where only the names and dates are placed, they tell the length of a person’s life. They tell an era that they lived. But what times and dates lack are the why, the how, and the story.
Stories are interesting things. Get twenty people to tell the same story and they will give you twenty different ways of telling it. Some may find certain parts more important than others and leave what some view as significant out. Different perspectives. Different views. Different ways of seeing things. When it comes to history, those who lived it have the opportunity to tell it in an “on the ground perspective” that once they pass if not documented will leave us forever. All of this to say that I am attempting to put together an album of independent songs about the history of Oklahoma through the lens of those who lived it as best I can.
We have so much in common with our past. We live some of the same struggles today. I hope to connect the humanity of the two. I hope to tell their story to relate to the generations in this moment of the times. I think there is a lot to know and a lot to learn. They weren’t stoic historic figures, but people like you and me feeling and breathing their way through the present. Their present. We have the grace of understanding through the faults of our predecessors. We still make mistakes today as a people, as a culture, as a state, and as a nation. We don’t need to hide from them, but learn from them and hold each other up in encouragement.
I hope that this songwriting project makes history a little more human, a little more beautiful, and a little more close to home. That home for me is Oklahoma. This land and the people who lived in it is the story I tell.
Sarah Popejoy Jackson